Pinot Noir (Old World)

  • Very pale, morello cherry red
  • Light bodied and elegant
  • All about spiced cherry compote, lavender and earth
  • The star grape of Burgundy, France, but famous worldwide
The Ballerina of Wine Grapes

Slender, understated and cerebral, your spiritual wine grape is Pinot Noir from the Old World: a red grape that personifies the elegant ballerina, dancing in a cherry silk gown with earth beneath her feet.

Sure, ballet dancers are notoriously temperamental and many people also find them too thin, but so often, they have a haunting beauty and an ability to make very complex moves seem smooth and effortless.

Pinot is famously difficult to work with, which is why there are so many disappointing bottles on the market. When all conditions are perfect and the masters get hold of it however, then wow! You’ll want to bathe in the stuff. Pale in colour and light-bodied, with high acidity and very low tannin, Pinot can taste like a red wine but feel like a white, which is part of its universal charm. Couple this with a sensual, silky texture and an ethereal perfume of spiced cherry, lavender, raspberry compote and earth, and you’ll understand why people spend crazy amounts on the top bottles!

Become a Pinot Noir expert by comparing key styles from its key regions as laid out in Winebird’s Tasting Tour…


Pinot Noir is one of the three main grapes used in Champagne, along with Chardonnay and the lesser-known Pinot Meunier. If you have a ‘Blancs de Noir’ Champagne, it has been made with the red grapes only: Pinot Noir or /and Pinot Meunier.


If it’s red and the label says ‘Bourgogne’ (French for ‘Burgundy’), it’s going to be Pinot Noir, even if it doesn’t say so.


Find a cool-climate Pinot that’s a few years old. That’s where the magic happens and you get those seductive, earthy flavours.

Tasting Tour

Pinot Noir 1: You can’t do Pinot Noir without heading to Burgundy, France. Top-end red Burgundies are best with a few years of age on them. Think spicy cherry and lavender flavours with a marzipan note. They’re delicate, earthy, understated and old school in style, but also often rather expensive!

Pinot Noir 2: New Zealand is one of the ultimate destinations for great New World Pinot; it’s easy drinking, yet serious. The savoury red fruit and cinnamon notes in wines from this country have won hearts and palates worldwide.

Pinot Noir 3 & 4: Head to the USA. The fog-cooled parts of coastal California give their Pinots softness, while that ripe, juicy fruit still shines through. They’re all about strawberries and cream on a bed of red velvet. Oregon Pinots are well worth trying too. They lean more towards a Burgundian style thanks to the cooler climate up there.

Pinot Noir 5: Chilean Pinot is often fuller bodied and more savoury-smoky than other versions, not to mention inexpensive. Come here for something spicy with bright damson and raspberry fruit flavours.